Cheers! My Birthday Celebration with the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

After losing my grandmother a few weeks before my birthday, I really needed to celebrate life. I know she would want me to do that. This year, I decided to ring in a new year of life in wine country. My soror traveled up from So Cal to visit. This would be her first time in Napa. I didn’t want to drive so instead, we bought bus tickets for the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours.

Let me tell you something, going on this bus tour was one of the BEST decisions I made. The Napa Valley Wine Country Tours bus isn’t just any bus. It’s a limo bus that looks like a VIP club lounge on wheels. We paid $119 for an 8-hour trip, visit to 4 wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, continental breakfast and lunch. It was worth every penny. The tastings aren't covered in the bus fare, but they ran about $10-$25. Wineries won't charge you for tastings if you buy a bottle. I recommend this for tourists and any Bay Area locals who have folks visiting from out of town and want a short excursion to Nap…

Switch It Up!
Hiking and Hanging With Mother Nature

"Switch It Up" is a Cocoa Fly series encouraging women to step out of the box, break it down and put it in the recycle bin. It's time to have fun and live it up!

Can you believe I took this picture just 15 minutes away from smoggy Los Angeles? I've been craving nature for about a year. The concrete was getting to me and I had this longing to see trees. The last time I was around a lot of greenery was when I went to Vermont for a writing camp in 2003. My last hike was in the 8th grade. It was time to Switch It Up. I've been wanting to go hiking for a while, but had trouble finding someone to go with me. You know how it is: bad timing, people were busy or some of my girls didn't want to sweat out their hair. I found a group on Facebook and got my hiking boots ready.
The spot was Temescal Canyon. I had a rough start. I got dizzy going round and round up the mountain. All I kept thinking was " I want to stop and puke." READ MORE

It gets worse. I stop to catch my breath. Our very nice group leaders comes over to check on I'm fighting the urge to puke on this red shirt . He also encouraged me to woman up and just puke, because other hikers in the past became nauseous. As he's telling me I'm telling my body not to blow chunks. He directed me to an easier trail and told me to meet up at a waterfall. It gets worse. I didn't throw up, but my ego took a hit. I turn around to take an easier route and as I'm going down the mountain an old Asian woman wearing an Asian sun hat (she looked to be in her late 60s early 70s) and holding two hiking sticks trudges up the mountain better than my 30-year-old behind. Ouch, my
ego. LOL! Then it gets better. I hit the easier trail and just took in the quiet, the rocks, the twigs and canyon. The air felt great and the other hikers were so friendly. In all of my years living in Los Angeles, I've never had so many Angelinos say "Good morning" to me. People in LA don't do that. Ya'll don't know how happy I was to hear trickling water as I got closer to the waterfall. I felt like I was in a movie. Must...make water...fall. Okay, maybe it wasn't that dramatic. I actually enjoyed going at my own pace, stopping to talk with people and take pictures. I was very much in the present. Once I made it I sat down on a big rock, watched the salamanders swim in the creek and absorbed my surroundings. The brush, boulders, insects and quiet--all reminded me that there's something greater out there than me and all of us. Mother Nature cradled my spirit and released me back into the the wild that I call LA freeways.
I'm not a hard core nature girl as you can tell by this post. But sometimes you need a break from the city. And I found that nature is great for my mental wellness and getting rid of stress.

For those of you ladies hesitant to try something that involves dirt, just try a nature walk. Maybe if more of  us ventured out of the city, we would get a better understanding of why going Green is so important. I had another, "never give up" experience. I also learned I need to get it shape. Next time I'll pass up the old lady in the sun hat. I hope.

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Photo Credit:
All Photos by Jenee Darden